Hanoi is one of the most captivating cities in the world and has quickly become an expat hub, where people from all over the world are coming to live and work. The capital city of Vietnam is full of history, soul and an atmosphere that’s unbeatable. Hanoi is a city for everyone – whether you’re old, young, foreigner, local, this place draws everyone in. You’ll see people sitting on the street corners on small red plastic chairs drinking one of the world’s cheapest beers and eating some of the tastiest food in the world. Once you’re in Hanoi, it’s difficult to leave.
The first impressions people usually get when they arrive to Hanoi is that it’s busy. Which is true. But once you get used to the thousands of motorbikes, crossing the road without getting a heart attack and hearing the noise of the honking, you’ll start to love it. And eventually, you’ll even love the pace of the city.
What’s so lovely about Hanoi is that it’s becoming more and more multicultural while still maintaining its local vibe. You can choose to go to a western café to grab some yoghurt and muesli, or you can go to a local restaurant or food stall and eat noodles early in the morning. If you’re looking for a good breakfast spot in Hanoi that doesn’t involve noodles or rice, you must go to ‘The Hanoi Social Club’, an Australian run café that’s immensely popular amongst expats and travelers. The café is housed in a 1920s colonial villa in the Old Quarter and has a bohemian vibe to it. They also throw regular art and music events so check out their website to see if they have anything going on when you’re going there. If you don’t mind eating Vietnamese food early in the morning, or you’re on a budget, hit the streets of Hanoi, go to a street food stall and order a bowl of warm pho. Not only is it really delicious, it’s also very affordable to eat local food on the streets and you’ll get more of the local experience. There’s also tons of ‘banh mi’ stalls where you can get a baguette filled with your likings.
Once you’ve had breakfast, it’s time to explore the city more. Although the Old Quarter is lovely to walk around in and West Lake is a must when you’re in Hanoi, there’s a lot more to this big city. If you’re interested in getting off the beaten track, head over to Bat Trang, a traditional village which is located about 13 km from central Hanoi. The village is famous for their ceramic and pottery products of high quality that’s being exported worldwide. So if you’re looking for some souvenirs to bring home, swing by Bat Trang. If you’re not feeling comfortable renting a scooter and driving the distance yourself, you can always rely on public transportation, which works surprisingly well in Hanoi. But don’t forget to explore the Old Quarter as well! Although it’s one of the most touristic spots in Hanoi, there’s lots to see in this area. Head in to the narrow streets where the local residents live in crammed neighborhoods, walk around and see the daily lives of the Vietnamese and try some kick ass local food. You won’t be disappointed.
When night falls, why not join a craft beer tour in Hanoi? Although the capital city of Vietnam hasn’t caught up as quickly to craft beer as Ho Chi Minh City, there’s still a number of craft breweries you should visit in Hanoi. Some of the best places to try craft beer is in Bia Hoi Corner, probably the most famous place to start your night off at, Furbrew, C-Craft Beer Restaurant, Hoa Vien Brauhaus and Hang Vui Craft Beer Restaurant. There’s always something going on in Hanoi so you’ll never feel bored in the big city. If craft beer isn’t anything for you. head over to Hanoi Rock City, a music and arts venue that hosts regular events. It’s the perfect mix of local and international atmosphere, and you’ll be guaranteed to have a good time there.
If you want to travel to Hanoi and explore this lovely city, make sure to apply for a Vietnam visa beforehand. Depending on which country you’re from, there are three options to apply for a visa. The first, and most preferred option, is the Visa on Arrival. It’s an online visa which you can apply for wherever you are in the world. You can get 30 days up to 3 months, depending on how long you intend on staying in Vietnam. There’s another online visa called E-Visa, which is an electronic visa that will give you a 30 days, single-entry visa. However, only certain countries in the world can apply for this type of visa. The last option is to go via the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and get a visa there. This option is good if you intend on arriving to Vietnam by land. You must apply with the Vietnamese Embassy then, the online visas are not valid if you’re coming to Vietnam by land, they’re only valid if you come by air.